Unregulated pay blights the Northern Ireland electrical contracting sector. Low morale and failing productivity have been withering away at the performance and reputation of the local industry. The popular rise of self-employment in the 80’s and 90’s and latterly false self-employment appears to have thoroughly undermined the standing of the trade and those who work in it. A recent pay and conditions survey found that just over 76% of qualified electricians were being paid below the minimum nationally determined (transport provided) rate of £13.15 per hour (Table 1). Payment for overtime and other previously established condition entitlements have also been significantly eroded during the period. Early gains for some through lower pay rates however have led to a general impoverishment of the industry. Activity in the local industry has become strained and unprofitable for many. Existing workers and potential new entrants remain dismayed or are put off by the drift from the industries national pay rate determination. The fragmenting of pay and conditions in the local industry is taking its toll on the ability of employers to recruit and replenish a fit for purpose workforce.
The solution lies with the restoration of a common national pay rate structure. Without this the race to the bottom culture will continue. Businesses will fail to retain and attract the best people. And a damaging 50p+ per hour bidding war will emerge throwing the local industry into further chaos.
Our recommendation for the industry: Work towards a 2016 full implementation of the national determined pay rates and restore the conditions of employment appropriate to electrical workers